Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A Sydney Harbour Walk - Spit Bridge to Manly

After 2, 000, 000 days of rain, the Sydney-ers came out on Monday for the first day of full sunshine.

I had big plans for the day--an ambitious 10K walk from Spit Bridge to Manly. I thought I had prepared adequately, a baggie of cut up apple, a hat, my new "Walking Sydney" book (I left the Coastal Walks book at my later regret).

I took a bus from our house to Spit Bridge, which is probably the easiest bus ride to anywhere you can take because you literally look out the window until you get to a bridge...and then you get off --> HURRAY!

Spit Bridge is nothing much to look at (it's actually pretty ugly):

The walk starts under the bridge in a little parkette. Almost immediately, you are plunged into a quiet rainforest, which is actually only 5 minutes from the busy roadway and about 500 feet away from private residences. It was so quiet and jungle-like-- I was in HEAVEN!

Like a lot of Sydney's harbour walks, there are bits of beaches and little bays full of boats all along the way...which is what harbours are all about I guess.

However, my favourite parts were always the jungle trails. I LOVE LOVE LOVE ROMPING THROUGH THE JUNGLE! It's not only a great workout (hopping stone to stone, avoiding puddles, leaping, etc.), but the air is densely green-smelling and refreshing.


Some bright algae growth on the rock walls.

There are 2 detours along this route to go inland if tides are high enough to wash out the trail. My guidebook didn't tell me anything about this, but it is very easy to get back on the right track. Just follow the "MSW" signs - Manly Spit Walk. In fact, this is one of the BEST marked city trails I've been on (Ok, but I haven't really been on so many).

I took a little detour off the main route to Manly to see Grotto Point. My book didn't say very much about Grotto Point, except indicate a lighthouse at the very end of the walk. The map it provided was essentially useless, GPS on my phone was useless, so I was left to my own devices. Luckily, some kind hikers had hand-written "GROTTO PT" on one of the many blue guideposts.

I could definitely see why the government doesn't want you to go this way.


Plus, you can't actually explore the lighthouse area because of unstable cliff edges.

By the time I climbed back up to the main trail, I was REALLY hungry. I was only about 4km into this 10K walk, so I devoured my apple, drank some water and tried to ignore my stomach.

Luckily, there were the Grotto Point Engravings to entertain me. These are Aboriginal engravings into rock.



After all that climbing, the trail finally leveled off. For all my hard, muddy work this view was an AMAZING reward:

However, I still had more than 5K to go, so I snapped a pic, tightened my muddy laces, and set off.

The bush trail eventually ended at a tiny secluded beach, where I emerged from the trees looking like a jungle queen and possibly scaring the little kiddies and their parents sun bathing. But then again, maybe these Australians are used to it, and that's why they just ignored me.

The trail continued as a paved walk-way all the way to Manly.

By the way, did you know that Manly beach is home to the Little Penguin?

I was RAVENOUS by the time I got to Manly. I ordered a mint-orange juice and a veggie pita sandwich. I was so hungry I devoured it within seconds. My feet were muddy and cold, so I boarded the first bus home and went headfirst into a hot shower. My feet stank SO BAD after 3 hours in wet and muddy shoes that I had to scrub my feet like 5 times to get the mud out.

All my walking books have called this walk one of the "best" urban walks in Sydney. In my humble opinion, YES YES YES YES YES! Most of the walk is in pure jungle, which is my absolute favourite, with short breaks into beach/residential areas. It is separated from the pollution of main roadways, and extremely popular with walkers, runners, hikers, families and tourists. It is clearly marked, well maintained, and easy to follow.

The only thing I would do differently is bring a snack, like a granola bar, and a change of socks for wet feet (or purchase some waterproof hiking boots, but those are $$$. Ain't nobody got time for that).

Go get your MSW hike on. It is AWESOME.

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